Despite stepped up security measures, Chechen rebels managed to carry out attacks marking the February 23 anniversary of Josef Stalin’s 1944 deportation of the Chechen and Ingush peoples. During the 1994-1996 Russian military campaign in Chechnya, the rebels managed to carry out revenge attacks on the anniversary (see the Monitor, February 22). According to the Russian military headquarters in Khankala, just outside the Chechen capital of Djohar [Grozny], a mine exploded under an armored personnel carrier as it was traveling in a military column in the Gudermes region. Three Russian servicemen were killed in the incident, and five wounded (Russian agencies, February 25).
The Russian military were expecting terrorist acts to mark this year’s anniversary and therefore took various preventative security measures. That the rebels managed to carry out attacks anyhow shows both that the Kremlin still does not have the situation in the republic under control and that official announcements that the war in Chechnya has ended and that power is being transferred to civilian structures have been little more than propaganda (see the Monitor, February 23).
Meanwhile, a mass grave containing eleven bodies was discovered on February 24 on the outskirts of Djohar. According to Vsevolod Chernov, Chechnya’s prosecutor general, the bodies had been booby-trapped with explosives. So far the identities of only three of the dead have been determined. All three were Chechens and Djohar residents, and had been killed by gunshots. Law enforcement agencies plan to search the entire village. Chernov did not rule out that more bodies might be discovered (Russian agencies, February 25).
REPORTER RETURNS TO MOSCOW AFTER DETENTION IN CHECHNYA.